DIFF Meets Nashen Moodley

Mon Oct 21,2013

As director of our Asia Africa programme, Nashen Moodley has been instrumental in bringing diverse films from across both vast continents to Dubai. And if that wasn't enough to contend with, he also heads up June’s Sydney Film Festival. We tempted him away from his DVDs for a few minutes to ask him about the next DIFF.

How’s the Asia Africa programme coming along?

It’s coming together. It’s slow but I guess it always feels that way at this stage and then things come together very quickly as we approach the deadline.

Right now we’re just looking as much as we can and there are lots of films to consider, so we’re trying to see as much as we can before we make particular commitments to films. We certainly watch a lot of films and it’s a small programme compared to what we actually see.

As director of the programme, is there a particular area that you cover?

I supervise all the programmers that work for the Asia Africa programme, so I look at all the films they recommend. But then within the programme I guess I cover particular areas like Iran, Turkey, most of Africa, and a few other regions.

You’ve been with DIFF since our second edition in 2005. How have you seen the festival develop over the years?

It’s been an incredible growth over time. The festival came about on the festival circuit with quite a splash. Within a very short time the international industry knew about the festival. But what’s been wonderful to see is how the audience has grown over the 10 years. And also how the festival has come into its own in terms of the various projects that it’s been working on. It has made it a really great place for people to come, for the industry to come. Whether you’re showing a film there or looking for films to acquire or looking for funding for an Arab film, there are so many partnerships and activities at the festival now that I think it all works very well together.

You’re also co-director of the Cinema of the World programme. What can we expect to see from this section this year?

Again Dubai audiences will be able to enjoy a broad selection of the best of world cinema this year, both very established directors as well as some exciting new talents. As the programme takes shape, we are really happy with the great films we've secured and I think the audience is in for a treat.

Some of the films have already been revealed, and in The Past and The Great Beauty we've already got a couple of Best Foreign Language Oscar nominees. Is it an encouraging acknowledgement of the selection process when films you choose are then submitted to the Academy Awards?

Yes, it's great that some of our selections are already getting Oscar buzz and we are delighted for the filmmakers. I'm very confident that many of the DIFF films will feature prominently in the awards season.

Have there been any particular highlights for you?

There have been lots. When I first began at the festival I just did a small programme. In the early years it was tough. It was tough to get an audience to those films and I think, for the most part, it was the first time that African films were screened in the region. So it took some time to develop an audience. But these days I’m really happy with the attendance and I think we have a big following for the African films. They do incredibly well at the festival incredibly well in the competition.  So I’m really happy about that.

I think some of the other highlights have been meeting some or my favorite filmmakers, to introduce people like Nuri Bilge Ceylan or have Lee Chang-dong on the jury. I think there have been many wonderful moments. Takashi Miike has been a filmmaker I’ve adored since I was inhigh school and last year I finally got to meet him in Dubai.

Away from Dubai, you’re director of the Sydney Film Festival. Is it easy to juggle both DIFF and Sydney?

They really complement each other and I think it works perfectly well in terms of the timing. Sydney is in June and Dubai is in December, so I get to watch a lot more films than I usually would. It also means that for Sydney I have access to the Arab world of filmmaking and can make connections, and for Dubai now it means that I have more connections to the Australian film industry and can be of use to the festival in that way.

Is there anything you’re particularly looking forward to at DIFF’s 10th anniversary?

What I hope for is what I hope for every year, which is that the cinemas are full. I think that would be the best celebration of this 10th anniversary.

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